What’s in a name? – Bloomsbury

September 20, 2010

Famous for its literary, intellectual and artistic heritage, Bloomsbury covers an area in central London which lies between Holborn and Euston Road.

The area, which became a fashionable residential district in the 17th and 18th centuries, derives its name from an earlier era and is named after William de Blemund (‘Blemundsbury’ means the manor of Blemund), who acquired land there in 1201.

It was later owned by the Earl of Southampton, who had begun developing the area in the 1660s – a task which was continued when the land passed, through the marriage of his daughter, into the hands of the Dukes of Bedford. Successive dukes were then involved – to varying degrees – in the development of series of residential squares and streets which eventually included the likes of Bedford, Russell and, of course, Bloomsbury Squares.

In the early 20th century, the area become home to what is known as the Bloomsbury Group – its members included the writers Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey and EM Forster. These days the area is noted for being home to the British Museum (first opened to the public in 1759) and the University of London.

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